On a long travel day we tend to look for things to remember. This is not something we naturally did, but something our kids have taught us over the years. When traveling with kids there are even more things noticed, either for distraction, or because kids just like those things. That was the case at one travel plaza this past August. The stop was near the end of New York state and it was very busy. There was a constant buzz of noise in there which seemed to mix well with the smells of coffee, cinnamon rolls, and fast food. There were families, truck drivers, and lone travelers all constantly moving in and out of this place. We came in with our four children who had been in the car a long time. All of our thoughts were on how to get in and out of there quickly. All of their thoughts were on how to get us to buy them something and where the free maps were located.
However, there was a sound in the air that seemed to capture their attention. It was a contrast to the din of the room. It was coming from a piano and it was playing a song from the movie “Aladdin.” Instantly one of my boys took off to find it, and the other kids followed him. I followed them also because I didn’t want to leave a child there, and because I really didn’t know where they were going. I just knew that they had a mission, or at least one of them did. It was somewhat surreal because in the middle of this busy place was a piano playing all by itself with people walking by without a glance. I had seen a piano like this before, but my kids had not. In fact, they were staring at it as if they were looking at some sort of miraculous event. They walked around it, touched it, and looked underneath it. Their minds were spinning as they tried to figure out how this could be possible. That quickly faded and they began to dance. We like to make a scene when we travel.
It wasn’t a huge deal and it didn’t take long for them to snap out of it and move on to the soda machine. But, it was a nice change of pace on a very long travel day. It made a memory for them and caused all of us to slow down for a few minutes. If my kids were not there I would have just walked in and walked out again.
As ironic as it seems, kids make me slow down and appreciate things. I notice tractors in places I never would. I spot dump trucks, excavators, and assorted “worker guys” even when I am by myself. I notice birds, animals and candy people drop on the floor. I should add that noticing candy on the floor is important for any parent because I have seen my kids pick up prescription drugs people have dropped. So, yes, this one is important, but I digress. I also notice people I would never notice otherwise. They (my kids) will often say something to strangers in an attempt to show kindness. Yes, even here in New England!
My kids notice things. They are able to pick out some small nuance in the midst of a very chaotic place. They will find a butterfly or a treasure in a place I would never have looked. The love book stores, elevators, small spiral notebooks, cats, and free maps. They have a way of appreciating the small things in life. They don’t carry the burdens that adults do.
We are blessed by the youngest ones around us. Maybe you need to slow down and spend some time letting a child lead you around. If that is not a possibility, maybe you could simply change your routine for a day. You could sit outside, without your phone, and observe. I know that doesn’t fit well in our desire to stay on task and be productive, but what if being productive involves actually engaging in the world around us? Those small things in life are not accidental. There are blessings in the small things. I know this is true because everyday there I am blessed by four of them who in turn bless so many more by their simple look at life. Is it any wonder Jesus told us to become like one of them?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14